Friday, February 8, 2013

Tempered by Genes

Don’t think personality is, at least in part, genetic? Come to the dog park.

Poodles, like mine, are extroverts, bouncing over to dogs and people, making eye contact with everyone, looking for interaction. Border Collies don’t want to interact; they see the dogs and people in the park as things to be herded. Some Labs will focus solely on their ball, retrieving it again and again. I’ve even seen a Lab being humped by another dog and ignoring that completely, eyes fixed on the ball in its owner’s hand. Great Danes will, with a great calmness, come over and simply lean on you.

Bernese Mountain Dog

English Mastiff

Dogs, of course, have been bred, not only for physical traits, but for personality. King Charles Spaniels, for instance, were bred down from hunting dogs to be, literally, lap dogs. According to Wikipedia, they were called “comforters” in the 16th century because ladies would cuddle them to keep warm. And guess what? In 2013, as soon as one of them sees you sit down, it will be in your lap. 

Jack Russell Terrier
Border Collie

On the other hand, Jack Russell Terriers, similar in size to King Charles Spaniels, were originally bred to go after foxes in their dens and are such feisty dogs that, in my dog park, at least, they are regularly booted from the small-dog side (under 25 pounds) to the big-dog side (over 25 pounds), for being too rowdy. And they can more than hold their own with the big dogs.

Humans don’t breed themselves for personality, of course – at least on purpose, though our inclinations, what we find attractive, how aggressive we are, do seem to push us as a species in certain directions.

Interesting to think about what our genetic inclinations might be and how to work with rather than against them.

Yellow Lab

Photo Credits: 
Border Collie: © Creatista | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos
Jack Russell: © Icyrock | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
English Mastiff: © Phakimata | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos
Bernese: © Pyewackett | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to mention the very best dog, the mutt. This dog inherits only the best traits from all its ancestors. gp